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Dear Gracie, It’s your birthday today and it is difficult to say everything I want to say without mentioning my vagina. Sorry.

During my pregnancy with you, I watched every episode of “A Baby Story” ever made. These episodes were my childbirth classes and I eye guzzled them the way you do Psych in the Summer.

In each and every episode, when the time comes for the mother to begin pushing, doctors and nurses put a great emphasis on the “bearing down” part. They tell the mother to push with all of her might.

I took this shit seriously, Gracie. You will hear your share of birthing nightmare stories in your life. The ones that resinated with me all had versions of the mom pushing for hours. I was not going to let this happen to us, Gracie. There would be no lollygagging.

And so, I pushed the way reality television taught me to. Your departure was so quick. So abrupt, that my body had no time to adjust. You were healthy and well and your papa crying as he held you. More was going on with me, however. Nurses later told me that I had, what they like to call, a “vaginal cesarian section”. This explained the horror on Auntie Buffy’s face as she watched right after you were born.

Naturally I thought of this yesterday as I was picking up some final odds and ends for your birthday gift. As I squatted to the lowest shelf, I yelped in pain so loud, you would have been embarrassed. I was embarrassed too, but I also smirked to myself because I thought of the day you were born.

The bottom line is this, G-love. One day, you’re nursing your newborn daughter while your ass is sitting on an inflatable doughnut. A few blinks later you’re falling on that same ass rollerskating with her at her 15th birthday party. How this happens, I have no idea. But, it does.

This is life, little one. You already know this. You have experienced more loss than any child should experience. Losing your papa at 4 feels like an eternity ago. It feels like yesterday at the same time. You have a neurotic mother who loves you more than anything but who also loves her cats (in costumes). You have obstacles. You have struggles. You worry about the cats and me sometimes, but you go back to school anyway. Your school isn’t an academic cake walk and yet you never complain. You love it and you seem to embrace everything that comes with it. You continue to walk one foot in front of the other. No matter what.

I’m no Buddha, but I’m pretty sure just putting one foot in front of the other is the key to life. You have this part nailed at 15 and it makes me proud and happy and relieved to witness. I will always worry about you, but I do not worry about you. I know you know what I mean.

On your 15th birthday, I am stupefied by serendipity. The serendipity that you were the child that I always wanted and you were the one flew out of my body and into my life. I am the luckiest to be your mom.

Happiest birthday to you, oh daughter of mine. I am grateful for you. I am grateful for every part of you. I’m grateful we got to rollerskate on your birthday instead of a beautiful, but entirely expensive and out of my league Quinceañera. I secretly kind of wanted a Quinceañera.

You are my favorite human ever in the history of the universe forever and always. Amen.

I love you,
~Mom

PS, Rupert and Javier send their best.

PSS, A caviet. While I am the luckiest, I would be a half of a fraction luckier had not taken a serious life lesson from a reality television show. #LearnFromMommysMistakes, sweet child. Learn from my mistakes.

(photo taken by either Maggie or Katie, two of Gracie’s good friends. They are both humble. Neither one knows who took it)

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Trish Reda. Family sessions 101.
When client books, gather names and ages of all members in attendance. Aunts, uncles, grandkids. Brush over attire quickly explaining to them general guidelines about what looks good in black and white and what doesn’t. Explain to them that your Canon is programed to auto-detect and immediately delete any photographs with adults in matching clothing. Also explain to them that your sessions work best when the session is treated more like a casual family get together. Wine and snacks are encouraged as they help to make the family members forget that they are about to have their portrait taken.
Upon arrival, take your shoes off, put your camera bag down, accept the kind offer for a beverage and pop a cube of cheese in your mouth. As the family organizer introduces you to everybody, they will put their hand out for a hand shake. Hug them instead. Sit on the floor, pet the dog, play with the baby and little kids. Act like you’re the favorite cousin who they haven’t seen in years. The children will already be convinced. Staying focused on the dog and kids, you will hopefully miss any “WTF-who-is-this-weirdo?” glances some of the grown ups might be giving each other as you sit barefoot on the floor now asking the 5 year old about her boyfriend. Pull out your camera and start shooting.
This being reason #497 of why I hesitate to teach. You can’t teach crazy. It’s a gift and I’m super gifted.

batgirlGracie
So this has been discussed on my Facebook page before, but I’ve never put it on my blog. I’m not going to rant and rage. I’ve done that and I agree with you, it’s stupid and pointless. I do want to comment, because let’s face it. I always want to comment.

This is an image of my daughter, Gracie. I took 11 years ago. Just before this, I had joined this great community of photographers online and my work improved exponentially because of their critique. I was frustrated that Gracie wouldn’t stay in front of the backdrop I had wanted to use. I shot this and I was irritated at the sun on her head. Bummed. I was bummed. But when I shared it with my people, it is the first time, I had such overwhelming positivity feedback. This image was a turning point for me as a photographer. It means a lot to me.

Fast forward to here and now. Some (not so) lovely person, stole this image and put a quote on top of it, “little girls with dreams become women with vision”. I have yet to find out who wrote that quote, but I would love to find her or him. I wonder what she thinks of her words being stolen and never being given credit. When I submit the original photograph and then the one with the quote, Google Image Search shows roughly 500 results. Not many, except that each result reflects hundreds and sometimes thousands of re-pins on Pinterest alone. Someone do the math for me.

None of these numbers take into account the massive amount of re-shares on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, foreign social media sites and I could go on and on. The image shows up as profile pictures for users all over the damn place and even as the profile picture for a beer drinking Meet-up group in Toranto! Please don’t get me started on the professional and personal bloggers who have used it on their websites. They know better and I’m trying to stay positive.

My feelings about this experience are mixed. First, I realize this world of Pinterest and Tumblr is here to stay. I’m not trying to fight it. Trying to take down or attach my name to every posting is like, one friend said to me, “playing whack-a-mole”. I am on Pinterest and I have pinned without thought and with frightening compusivity. I’d be a hypocrite to lecture anybody on the topic. I know the reality here. But knowing the facts, doesn’t completely resolve my feelings. It never does.

First, this is my daughter. It was very off-putting to see this image of her with a quote I’d never heard and on a site I had never seen. As I searched around it had already really been making the rounds. Imagine walking into a person’s house for the first time and seeing your family photo on their mantle. Now multiply that times hundreds of thousands. My creeped out phase led to the anger phase and I’m glad I didn’t write anything about it then because I was on fire. Time has passed and there is a big part of me that is grateful and flattered when I see it pop up on Pinterest with a kind comment. Mostly that’s where I am at. Resigned, surrendered… (whatever) that it’s taken on a life of it’s own. It makes me feel good that it speaks to people enough to continue sharing it. But there is still a little part of me that is tweaked.

I’m a Photographer. I make my money with my photographs. It’s all personal, but an image of my daughter is especially so. I wouldn’t know how to begin to do the math and calculate how many views this image has had, but certainly if I had been paid per click, Gracie would have a little extra nugget in her college fund and maybe a little left over for my 401k. You know? If my site had been linked on the re-shares, it would have driven traffic to my site and very possibly manifested into a few extra bookings. And, I have to say, that is a crap feeling. I still feel a bit burglarized and taken advantage of, even if the vast majority of people sharing would never had done so, if they had known the background story.

My point of posting isn’t to complain or whine. This folly isn’t much compared to many other image thievery stories out there. Mostly I just wanted to claim it and let everybody know that this image is mine. If you have pinned it or re-shared it, I first thank you. I make no demands, but I do have a favor to ask. If you’ve the time and you feel inclined, I would appreciate you re-pinning it with credit or maybe just Pinning this image as a public service announcement. My second request is your mindfulness now that you know. Please, if you would, just try and take a little extra second to be thoughtful of the artist behind the images you’re sharing. A few extra clicks deeper will often take you directly to their website and if you pin from there, it’s better for them. Writing their name or website is a kind gesture too. Please don’t ever upload images to Instagram, Facebook or any other sites if they are not yours and you don’t have permission. Teach your kids to do the same. They are very guilty of this, and they just don’t know any better. Teach them.

I don’t want to take the fun out of it. I don’t want to be a downer. I’m not asking you to do an in depth background check on every image you pin or share. I am there pinning with fervor right beside you, remember?. Still, everything in our world is moving way fast, not just digital art and it’s good and kind and right to make efforts to put 2 seconds of thought into these things we do online so compuslivly. Pin away and pin with speed, if you must. But please be mindful of the artists behind the images you are sharing. We’re sensitive and we’re hard on ourselves and we usually think our work sucks when it probably doesn’t. A little bit of credit, if not payment is meaningful to us (unless you’re Fit Pregnancy). I realize it’s not realistic to expect this kind of vigilance 100%, but it would be nice if it became a new norm of social engagement. A new rule in the book of modern social etiquette.

To the bloggers, advertisers and people who right click and rework images for your own profit or attention: You should really just stop. Seriously. Stop it.

Thanks for listening. I would appreciate you sharing this one. It’s important to me.

  • trish - ReplyCancel

  • http://www.soulduster.com/ - ik moet hem zien anders ga ik de minister van volkgezondheid aanspreken hier op dit is echt niet goed voor mijn gezondheid om zon groote fan te zijn*ik ga dood*xxxReplyCancel

  • Marianne - This reminds me of the story of the ehrmagerd girl. I don’t know if you’ve seen this story or not but I was a little obsessed over it when I read it a couple of weeks ago. Somehow they did track down the Reddit (?) guy who made the meme. Lifted the image from the woman’s FB albums.

    http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2015/10/16/ermahgerd-girl-tells-the-story-behind-her-infamous-and-also-hilarious-internet-meme/ReplyCancel

  • Kellie - Love you Trish Reda. It was you who made me aware of this issue on a personal level.. Now if I need a photo for a blog post I only go to Flickr and use the free authorized images… And I always include the link back to the artist.

    I don’t make money on social media but using high quality images is still important to me. Since I don’t have the talent myself, I am very grateful to the artists who share some of their work. It seems like the very least I can do is keep the scales balanced by making sure credit is given where it belongs.ReplyCancel

  • Beth Miles - A-fricken-men! I love this whole rant and will be sharing. I have had clients chop up my demo reels to present in briefs to ask if we can do something “like this”…. (palm meets face). I have had countless people send me my own stuff from all over the worldwide web to “check this out!” (palm meets face again) Worse still I have had people cut my demo together with my one apples-to-apples competitor’s demo, and then take credit for it all, even stealing a real job out from both of us, destroying a potentially repeat customer’s faith in what we do. (aargh!)

    You want your stuff out there, you NEED your stuff out there, and all you can do is count on people to, if not do the right thing, at least not do the wrong thing.

    Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Amber Baker - I totally feel for you. It makes you feel violated to a certain extent. I am in the midst of this with one of my wedding clients. Just today they brought to my attention that their wedding images are being used all over the web, on unsavory blogposts and advertisements. I’m trying to deal with the ones I can, but I know it’s a part of the web. We’ll never be able to take them all down. And a small part of me feels flattered, but a bigger part of me feels protective of my client.ReplyCancel

    • trish - Amber, it sucks. While the Tumblr/Pinterest thing is impossible, if they are being used on any kind of traditional site, you can get them taken down. Best to send a nice email and give them 24 hours notice. Then report them. Their website will be in serious jeopardy with this kind of report. http://www.whoishostingthis.com/dmca/ReplyCancel

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Maybe it’s because I turned into a crazy cat lady when I adopted Rupert and Javier, but 2014 has been the awesomest (yes, awesomest) year of your pets in your portraits. Today’s post is dedicated to the cats. Because cats don’t care and for some reason, therapy has yet to reveal, the more they don’t care, the more I love them. It seems highly appropriate with Thanksgiving just two days away, to express my gratitude for the most ungrateful house pet of all. Have a beautiful Thanksgiving, friends. Stay Grateful.